- Once we realized the travel wasn't going to stop, we invested in Jeremy getting an iTouch. This allows him to see all the photos I take of the kids throughout our day with my iPhone. If he's connected to WiFi, then he can see what we are up to. It's a little way to give him a glimpse at what the kids are experiencing and even some things to ask them or talk to them about on the phone later.
- The iTouch has also allowed us to do "Facetime" (iPhone's version of skype or something) in multiple different locations and neither of us have to be glued to our computers. My phone is always covered in grime after each video session from the kids kissing daddy so many times ;)
- If daddy's plane lands in the evening, he always brings something to eat from the airport. Very often it is a smoothie, soup or chocolate chip cookies or a combination! Of course the kids are thrilled to see daddy himself, but our little family goodie sessions have been something that the kids and I talk about and look forward to a lot... and it lends itself to great conversation and connecting right when he gets home.
- I try to find a good balance of talking about daddy while he's away. I don't want to talk about him too much, because sometimes I've seen it have the opposite affect and make Harper miss her daddy more! But I talk about him (always positively, even if I'm tired or frustrated myself) and try to get Harper to chime in about all the things we love about daddy. These lists have been a hoot to listen to!
- The kids and I pray for daddy each night before bed and sometimes we stop and pray for him throughout the day too.
- I have been learning a lot about psychology 101 in dealing with sad feelings. I have recognized to tentatively expect and always allow the kids to act out a little bit more when Jeremy's gone. Not be naughty, but feel. What I mean by this is, very often the first day daddy is gone, there are a whole lot more tears from the kids. Bentley doesn't seem to respond so much, more he feeds off of Harper's emotions. Harper, on the other hand, will sometimes have major meltdowns. When we were first trying to figure this all out, I would get very frustrated, wondering why in the world she seemed to be acting like a crazy child who I didn't recognize at all. Then, as I got council from Jeremy and close friends and prayed, it finally dawned on me that Harper was sad! We have a series of children's books on feelings. One of them is all about feeling sad. We have read this book over and over. From it, we have learned: It's ok to feel sad and it's all right to cry about it. Sad is a cloudy, tired feeling. We don't like feeling sad, but everyone feels sad sometimes. We can tell someone we feel sad and sometimes it's good to be close to someone too. We won't feel sad forever. Needless to say, Harper is receiving more grace and a lot more hugs when daddy travels.
- When the weekends arrive, we are trying to be better about doing "dates" with our kids. This is something that Jeremy and I are aspiring to continue throughout the kids lives. Dates allow us to be one-on-one with a kid. To stop and breath them in - their personality, their interests, their smile, all of it. Often it's been daddy taking one of the kids out someplace on a Saturday morning. This past weekend was our first simultaneous date. Daddy and Bentley went to the park to feed the ducks and watch some basketball. Harper and I rode a carousel, grabbed smoothies and shopped for a sunhat for her. Sometimes the dates spend money, sometimes they are simple-simple. Jeremy and I crave to know our kids - their whole life. And truly knowing them and how they function, Lord willing, will lead us into better parenting for each of them.
I hope that these pictures will be just one more thing that connects our family during this season. Where Jeremy can look at these pictures when he feels far away and remember the tiny, yet bigger than life details, about his three loves: that we are with him always, we love him forever, and we are never complete without his feet in the picture.